A regenerative Internet of water
Our current internet is growing at an incredible pace, every email we send and video we stream every day consumes energy. To question the status quo of the "faster and more" development model, I’ve teamed up with researchers from the University of Cambridge to create an algae-powered internet by combining the power of photosynthetic cycles and network technology to redefine how we connect and communicate in the digital landscape.
Introducing Phytonet — a regenerative web servers network powered by electricity generated by phytoplankton and microalgae in our rivers and canals. The algae-powered web server not only hosts web content but is also embedded with environmental sensors to monitor the water quality of our waterways. By integrating this regenerative energy source into the Internet's infrastructure, Phytonet aims to spark the imagination of an alternative model to run our Internet that is sustainable and in sync with nature's rhythms.
Dr. Lorraine Archer (University of Cambridge)
Dr. Paolo Bombili (University of Cambridge)
Canal & River Trust
2022 - Ongoing
London, United Kingdom
Harnessing electricity from photosynthesis
The algae solar cell harness electricity from photosynthesis. The device design is based on the latest research on the Biophotovoltaic (BPV) system. The system functions like a bioreactor. It consists of two electrodes, the metallic wool (anode) which is populated with microalgal biofilm and the plant root-carbon tube (cathode). Microalgae function like plants, they do photosynthesis to produce food for themselves, absorb carbon dioxide, and release oxygen. In this process, electron flows are generated. By harnessing this electron flow, electricity is generated to power up our environmental sensors and web servers.
Phytonet website with open water quality data
The website with the water quality map is hosted by the algae-powered server.
You can go to the Phytonet website here: https://phytonet-beta.glitch.me/
The algae-powered web server not only hosts web content but it is also embedded with environmental sensors to monitor the water quality such as temperature and dissolved oxygen level of the canal. The data are shared as open data accessible to the public.